Friday, February 22, 2019

That Scary Socialism

The pic to the left is a preview of the upcoming GOP presidential campaign, though it's already underway. If they have their way, we won't be discussing whether Americans need the health care most of the world enjoys. Instead, we'll be discussing whether or not it's socialism.

The word has been largely a loser of a label in American culture, and that's what GOP counts on. I was educated in public schools during the Cold War era, and I was taught to loathe those awful Russians, because they were communists. Never mind my grandfather was born there, and was one of the best people I ever met.

I don't call myself a socialist, though some of my friends on the right have labeled me that (and less complimentary things). I do have friends who are varying degrees of socialists. I've been to meetings where one socialist group was criticizing another, and they got right down into the weeds on what was wrong with one or the other. I generally had no idea what they were even talking about.

What I do know is I strongly support health care for all. I don't really care what you call it. Obama promised a public option that never saw the light of day. Medicare for All is the phrase I keep hearing from politicians I like. The GOP response, invariably, is that's socialism and you'll lose your private insurance. It's odd, because I have private insurance and I'll be glad to lose it. I'm tired of the copays and confusion. Once, when I had cancer, I got a hospital bill for thousands of dollars. I was feeling so weak that I just paid rather than question it.

I'm lucky. I've known people I don't know anymore because they're deceased for lack of medical coverage. Americans go bankrupt over catastrophic medical emergency, and last I looked it was the number one cause of bankruptcy here. But we can't have national health coverage because that would be socialism. Donald Trump says we'll never have socialism here and thousands of MAGA hat-wearers cheer.

My father fought in World War Two. He was in the Battle of the Bulge. Toward the end of his life he required care. He had what he thought was insurance in case he had to have at home or nursing home care. His wife soon learned that the insurance covered very few of her expenses. And so, when my father was 92 years old he had to divest himself of most of what he owned, what he'd worked for all his life, so he could receive Medicaid coverage and his wife wouldn't go broke. My brother-in-law's grandmother, in Canada, received better end-of-life care than my dad did, and didn't have to lay out a dime for it.

In case that doesn't sound like much, they also get paid parental leave, which my sister in law took for a year once. Oh, and she also got free child care, though I think that varies by province. Still, it's a lot better than here, where all you're guaranteed is diddly squat.

They say the Green New Deal is socialism, and make ridiculous claims about it. Is it controversial that we need to protect the environment for our children and grandchildren? Evidently it is, with leaders who don't even believe in science anymore. 

Is that socialism too? Does it really matter what on earth we call it? I guess it only matters if you want to continue with the status quo and frighten working Americans into submission. Are we going to allow the next election cycle to pivot over whether or not taking care of one another, as well as the world we inhabit, is socialism? Or are we going to work to give Americans what we overwhelmingly want and need?

Only time will tell, unfortunately.

Meanwhile, the same people who cry socialism put a billboard up in Times Square, vilifying Alexandria Ocasio Cortez for opposing the Amazon deal, you know, the one in which we were to give the richest man in the world 3 billion dollars so he can create jobs that pay 150K each. Actually, we'd be subsidizing them to the tune of 120K each, so it's a bargain for Bezos. Remember when Obama got elected and we bailed out the car companies, along with the banks that caused the crisis?

We've always had what they call socialism in the United States. Whatever you call it, it's obscene when it only benefits rich people, as opposed to those of us going to work every day and trying to get by. If we're gonna put our money somewhere, it ought to be in a vibrant middle class. The policies of the last few decades are making us an endangered species.

I want to hear Democrats tell us why we should vote for them. If their selling point is they aren't socialist, for my money they're playing right into the hands of Donald Trump. We need to do way better than that. 
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